Nearly £100m has been wiped off the value of Superdry after the fashion retailer announced the abrupt departure of co-founder Julian Dunkerton.
Dunkerton is a pivotal figure in the history of the clothing brand, which he started with designer James Holder in 2003. The businessman, who got his break selling clothes on a Cheltenham market stall, was for many years the driving force behind the company’s growth.
Although the 53-year-old businessman has been scaling back his involvement in the retailer, his departure unnerved investors with the shares closing down 6.5% at £15.43. Dunkerton handed over the chief executive reins to Euan Sutherland in 2014 and latterly held the part-time role of “founder and product brand director”.
In a statement the company said Dunkerton would leave the board at the end of this week. The entrepreneur, who remains the company’s largest shareholder with a stake of about 25%, is transferring more than £1m in shares to the Blue Marine Foundation, a charity focusing on overfishing and biodiversity.
“I am immensely proud of everything achieved at Superdry over the past 15 years,” said Dunkerton of the retailer, which turned over more than £750m in 2017. “With other demands on my time it is the right point for me to transition my focus and responsibilities.”
The first Superdry clothes were sold through Dunkerton’s first retail chain Cult Clothing but a dedicated store was opened in 2004 and, after a period of rapid growth, it listed on the stock exchange in 2010. The entrepreneur’s other interests include the Dunkerton Cider Company as well as The Lucky Onion, a Costswold-based chain of upmarket hotels and pubs.
Holder resigned two years ago to launch the design consultancy SuperDesign Lab, but retains an advisory role. Superdry now has a team of 60 designers to fill the founder’s shoes, but is to hire a creative director to fill the gap left by Dunkerton.